Greetings. Recently I wrote about the importance of casting a wider net in our search for new and better ways to solve important problems and create meaningful business opportunities. In that post I outlined eight great places to look for ideas, insight, and inspiration that ranged from our own "backyard" to other industries, disciplines, and cultures. So let's start to spend a bit more time looking at each one, beginning with the easiest and most obvious–unlocking all of the genius inside our own companies and organizations. I say "easiest" with a slight bit of trepidation. Because while it seems logical for companies to assign a high priority to leveraging their own best thinking and practices, most don't. Instead, they allow knowledge and wisdom to remain "trapped" in business units, groups, silos, divisions, verticals, teams, functions, projects, programs, or whatever they choose to call them. Rarely sharing, and building on, existing ideas that could support innovation and growth more broadly.
But it doesn't have to be this way. And, it doesn't have to be overly complicated. Sure, there's a lot of information and data floating around our companies. And, not all of it is important to our growth and future success. But there's real reason to believe that you and your colleagues are clever enough to be capturing your best thinking and using it as a starting point for even better thinking. We're often told that the biggest obstacle is finding the time to capture our ideas. But that's merely a cop-out for an unwillingness to make our knowledge assets a strategic priority. Many leading businesses–like IBM, Adobe, Dow Jones, Salesforce, and Google–consistently win in their marketplaces because they understand the real value of knowledge.
Granted, the phrase "knowledge management" doesn't help to get people on board. After all, it isn't a name that really demonstrates the clear business value of what we are trying to accomplish. Why waste your time "managing" information? Instead, we ought to call it knowledge or genius "leverage-ment" because our real need is to unlock the best thinking in our organizations and leverage it to create greater value for all of our problems and customers. But even with a better name, we still have to do a few key things to really capitalize on our intellectual assets:
1. We have to make capturing, sharing, and leveraging knowledge an essential priority and hold people accountable.
2. We have to make it part of the life of our business.
3. We have to create a simple system for capturing and accessing what we know.
4. We have to make the system interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, up-to-date, user-driven, and consistently valuable.
5. We have to build a culture of creating, sharing, and leveraging knowledge that includes idea and insight "forums" and learning events, greater collaboration across business units, and information sharing "awards" and incentives that demonstrate the importance of tapping our collective brilliance.
6. We have to track and measure our effectiveness in "leveraging" knowledge.
We win in business by sharing what we know inside our organizations and using our "collective genius" to create greater value for customers. When was the last time you shared a great idea with a "distant" colleague? Maybe it's time to get everything out in the open.
Cheers and have a great week ahead!